The Small Claims Court

A milestone towards achieving the ease of doing business in Kenya

The Small Claims court is a game-changer to the commercial sector in Kenya. With the introduction of this court, individuals being owed ksh 1 million and below have a reason to smile since they can quickly recover the sum through judgement and execution of orders from the Small Claims Court. This Court was established under the Small Claims Court Act of 2016 which has recently undergone several amendments. The court became operationalized early this year after being launched by the then Ag. Chief Justice Philomena Mbete Mwilu. This is a subordinate court in the structure of the court system under Article 169 (1) of the Constitution of Kenya. This court has a monetary jurisdiction of matters not exceeding Kshs 1 million. The judiciary has established the court as part of an initiative of creating the ease of doing business environment in Kenya. The move is set to attract small and medium scale investors into the Kenyan economy due to the assurance of a simple, inexpensive and expeditious commercial dispute resolution mechanism. 

The structure and the dispute resolution process is created in such a way that it enhances access to justice to all. The pleadings used to approach the court and response to claims filed before the court by the claimants are provided for under prescribed forms in the Rules of the Court hence no hustle of drafting complex documents as required in the other subordinate and superior courts. The settlement of disputes takes only 60 days hence expeditious enough to allow the litigants to proceed with their business without incurring unnecessary legal costs arising from lengthy litigation. It is therefore important for all business communities composing both local and foreign investors seeking to start up businesses in Kenya through any specials purpose vehicles for commercial transactions to be fully aware of the operations of the Small Claims Court. 

The main objective of this court is to guarantee the right of access to justice as envisioned under Article 48 of the Constitution of Kenya. The underlying values and objects of this court to the business community is the simplicity of procedure to the extent of making it easy for the litigants to represent themselves, timely disposal of suits, impartiality and fairness of the process. Litigants are not required to pay any court fees hence the court allows those who cannot afford legal costs to have equal access to justice. It, therefore, behoves everyone to be fully aware of the running and operations of the court for improved business transactions in the country.

Boaz Bwire | bwireboaz@gmail.com.
The writer is a Lawyer at Oundo Muriuki and Company Advocates.

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